For the second time this year my heart is heavy with having to say good bye to someone so precious and vital to the homeopathic community.
I arrived in Mexico yesterday to the tragic news that Dr. Peter Fisher died on his commute to work. According to newspapers he was participating in bike to work day (though I do believe he often commuted on his bicycle), and was hit by a truck (lorry).
Dr. Peter Fisher was truly one of the great homeopaths of our time. He was one of the strongest voices speaking for the homeopathic community. You can read all about his work and contributions online. He gained fame for being Her Majesty the Queen’s physician, but he was truly much more than that. He was Editor in Chief of the Journal Homeopathy, the only peer-reviewed homeopathic journal to be indexed by PubMed. He was an advisor to the World Health Organization and sat on the Expert Advisory Panel on Traditional and Complementary Medicine and chaired the homeopathic committee. He was the Director of Research at the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine, previously known as the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital. He was the President of the Faculty of Homeopathy. But resume aside he was a researcher, a father, a physician, and a beloved member of our community.
I first came across Dr. Fisher in a BBC documentary, around the time that my interest was first piqued in the subject. If I remember correctly, and my mind hasn’t made any of this up, I remember the documentary was about debunking alternative medicine practitioners. They interviewed what appeared to be a lot of very kooky people, and then came to Dr. Peter Fisher working at the hospital and seeing patients. After attempting to discredit homeopathy, we get a window into his rheumatology and homeopathic practice and see his patients saying that they’re feeling better. Peter Fisher never shied away from the media and the public eye. It seemed like he had no qualms about venturing into the lion’s den; by publicly debating Dr. Ben Goldacre a renowned skeptic, by participating in an interview for his Richard Dawkins’ documentary “The Enemies of Reason”
He was always willing to fearlessly debate difficult subjects using a strong scientifically grounded and erudite voice and with his profound and intimate knowledge of the evidence base for homeopathy. He was a great disseminator of research – just check out his twitter feed which reads like a homeopathic research database. @PeterAGFisher
I had the honour of meeting Dr. Fisher several times over the years at different conferences. I last saw him speak at a Toronto Homeopathic Conference, where he discussed the political attacks on homeopathy, and strategy for dealing with this as a community in order to come out ahead and ensure access to homeopathy continues. It was at this conference that I asked him if he would be willing to participate in my documentary, this wasn’t easy for me as I had always felt intimidated by this hero of homeopathy. I was so grateful when he agreed.
Several months later I found myself at Ainsworth’s pharmacy in London, getting ready with my cinematographer and friend Peter, to interview Dr. Fisher. We were given a small treatment room, and managed to set up the camera in the tight space. Dr. Fisher was endlessly patient with us. He blew me away with what appeared to be a photographic memory, a mind full of statistics, data, graphs and in-depth knowledge of research results. He was also very firm in his opinions and beliefs. He spoke of the ignorance of the skeptic community, the development of a publishing bias in the scientific community, the grounds that were being made by CAM modalities in the WHO. He provided me with a positive outlook, that homeopathy had a valuable and important future in medicine and healthcare.
After the interview, we needed to collect B-roll, footage that is vital for editing and giving context to a story and interview. We staged us meeting on the street in front of the Pharmacy, it was evident that Dr. Fisher was uncomfortable with this staged meeting being filmed on the street, and yet he totally played along with us. He left us with the suggestion to visit the Broad Street pump and the John Snow Pub (which is rich with homeopathic history but that is a tale for another time), and off we went with a heart full of hope for the future of homeopathy.
Dr. Peter Fisher was a force to be reckoned with. He was fearlessly brilliant scholar and scientist. This is an enormous loss to the homeopathic community and indeed the world. My deepest condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues. He will be sorely missed and mourned around the world.